Criminology may be defined as the scientific study of the nonlegal aspects of crime including its causes, correction and prevention. The origins of criminology dates back to the late eighteenth century, when the Italian Cesare Bonesano Beccaria (1738-94) and Englishman Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) pointed out that laws and punishments should be equal to all and be proportionate to the crimes committed. Criminology was earlier a part of a larger branch of sociology and it still continues to be, in certain aspects.
It is an extensive interdisciplinary field dwelling on subjects like psychology, economics, anthropology, biology, statistics and law. Criminology covers various subjects including penology, or the study of prison systems; biocriminology which is the study of the biological basis of criminal behavior, feminist criminology which is the study of crime among women and criminalistics or crime detection. Criminology has provided great insight into the establishing and managing of crime judicial system.
The conclusions and facts produced by these criminological studies have shaped the way in which the law enforcement and judiciary identify, judge and punish crimes. Many criminologists consider crime as being a form of deviance, while some consider it as a type of anomie behavior. Others consider crime as a response to social conditions, stress and break down of law or social order. Criminological theories are logical facts, which help us in understanding and analyzing crime and their causes. These theories are formed using statistics, case histories, official records and sociological field methods on criminals and their activities.
Criminological theories are mainly focused on crime and its causes. Representation of the theories take the form of diagrams, figures, table of numbers, statistical data and correlated with a classic case. All theories have to some extent, a set of assumptions like human behavior under economic and social setups, elements of causation, etc. , based on which facts are interpreted and explained. There are about thirteen types of criminological theories, of which strain, learning and control theories are the most prominent or the mainstream.
The oldest theory however is biocriminology dating back to 1876. The four recent theories being left realism, peacemaking, feminist, postmodern that have developed in the last twenty five years. It is noteworthy to state that it is not possible for any single theory to fully and perfectly explain every crime or deviant act. A good explanation of the crime can only be got by incorporating various theories. It was in the nineteenth century, when criminology took a scientific approach by incorporating biological and medical findings in its study and biocriminology was born.
Italian Cesare Lombroso (1836-1909) found that criminal behavior is associated with certain body characteristics like cranial, skeletal, and neurological malformations. However, subsequent criminologists have disputed this theory that biology is responsible for creating a class of criminals. Today biocriminology has established that heredity and body organ dysfunctions can induce an inclination towards crime. Modern researches indicate that chromosomal abnormalities, hormonal and brain chemical imbalances, diet, drugs and alcohol are factors that contribute to criminal behavior.
In the journal ‘Research in Corrections’ (June 1988, Vol. 1, Issue 2), by Diana Fishbein and Susan Pease; Virkkunen (1986) found abnormal insulin and blood glucose responses to a glucose tolerance test among male offenders diagnosed as violent and impulsive. Several case studies indicate that certain foods or food constituents induce neuropsychological disorders in the form of allergic or pharmacologic reactions which may even lead to chemical imbalances in the brain, resulting in behavioral disorders.
Rapp (1981) showed the relationship between food allergies and antisocial behavior on a eleven year old black boy Donald. His disruptive, hyperactive, hostile and rude behavior was found to persist due to his normal diet of milk, wheat, eggs, cocoa, sugar. When all these were removed from his diet, he responded significantly that his parents were surprised. He became calmer and his activity levels became normal.